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Gadhafi vows to fight as loyalists strike oil hub
TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Col. Moammar Gadhafi, Libya’s fugitive leader, accused revolutionary forces of surrendering Libya to foreign influence and vowed to press ahead with his resistance in a message Monday issued just hours after a twin attack on a key oil facility by loyalist fighters. At least 15 attackers were killed, an anti-Gadhafi commander said.
“We will not be ruled after we were the masters,” said the brief statement attributed to Col. Gadhafi that was read on Syria’s Al-Rai TV by its owner, Mishan al-Jabouri, a former Iraqi lawmaker and Gadhafi supporter.
The message described the opposition forces as “traitors” who are willing to turn over Libya’s oil riches to foreign interests.
“We will not hand Libya to colonialism, once again, as the traitors want,” said the statement, which pledged to fight against the “coup.”
The firebrand words by Col. Gadhafi contrast sharply with the staggering losses for his regime in recent weeks, including being driven from the capital, Tripoli, and left with only a handful of strongholds that are surrounded by former rebel forces.
At the important oil terminal at Ras Lanouf, suspected loyalist staged back-to-back attacks that began with saboteurs setting fires and then shifted to a convoy of gunmen riding in from the desert.
Col. Hamid al-Hasi, the commander for anti-Gadhafi forces in eastern Libya, said a group of 15 employees set fire to the facility, located on the Mediterranean coast about 380 miles southeast of Tripoli. He said five of the saboteurs were killed and the rest arrested.
In a possibly coordinated attack, the port then was targeted by a convoy of armed men apparently based in a refugee camp about 18 miles south of Ras Lanouf. One revolutionary commander, Fadl-Allah Haroun, said a total of 15 people were killed in both attacks.
The size of the ground assault force was unclear, but Mr. Haroun said it may have been as big as 40 vehicles.
Former rebels, meanwhile, have been facing stiff resistance from Gadhafi supporters in Bani Walid since last week and have captured most of the northern half of the town, which is one of three significant remaining bastions of Col. Gadhafi’s loyalists.
Mubarak al-Saleh, an opposition political envoy from Bani Walid, claimed Col. Gadhafi’s son Seif al-Islam is leading loyalist forces massed in the town, about 90 miles southeast of Tripoli.
“The forces are not from Bani Walid but from all over Libya,” he said. “We lost many people in the battle.”
Dozens of cars loaded with Libyan families and personal belongings streamed out of the town in anticipation of a fresh assault.
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